The best rod in the world is nothing without a good reel. It needs to release line smoothly and tension it just so when you hook a fish and start pulling it in. The 1650’s “drag” (a simple clutch system that spools out line when enough force is applied) gave all of our testers—both beginners and experts—the ability to control big, deep-diving rainbows.
“I could keep tension on the fish to steer it away from entangling logs, but still allow it some freedom so it couldn’t break free,” says one of our Alpine Lakes testers. Another praised the drag’s sealed graphite construction, which requires no maintenance. Paired with the Redington rod, the 1650 makes a complete package that doesn’t sacrifice performance for weight or price. $99; 6 oz.; sageflyfishing.com